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Nationals GM cites “dangerous field conditions” and “safety threat” at high Single-A Potomac

Jul 15, 2011, 12:16 PM EDT

ugly lawn

When the Nationals promoted Bryce Harper from low Single-A to Double-A two weeks ago there was speculation that they decided to have the game’s best prospect skip high Single-A altogether because of the terrible field conditions in Potomoc.

Mike Rizzo denied that was the case at the time, but yesterday the general manager issued a statement about what he called “dangerous field conditions” at Pfitzner Stadium:

The Washington Nationals would never consider asking our players, or those of our opponents, to play on a field that we believe represents a safety threat. The Nationals have repeatedly requested that dangerous field conditions be addressed under the supervision of Major League Baseball. Recent unsupervised work has resulted in a field that is even more dangerous. We regret any inconvenience this may cause to fans of the Potomac Nationals, but we know they join us in wanting only the best for our players.

I’m sure the quality of the playing surface wasn’t the sole driving force behind where the Nationals assigned one of the most valuable assets in all of baseball, but based on Rizzo’s statement it sure sounds like they would have been extremely hesitant to send Harper to “a field that we believe represents a safety threat.”

What a mess.

  1. halladaysbiceps - Jul 15, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    What is exactly wrong with the field conditions there and how did it come to be? Not sure I understand. Are they water-logged? Does it have anything to do with the Potomac river? Is the stadium close to it?

  2. jimbo1949 - Jul 15, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    So Rizzo, were you lying then or are you lying now?
    And how about the Riggleman affair? Does this mean we can’t trust anything you say? (rhetorical question, already answered.)

  3. bigleagues - Jul 15, 2011 at 1:00 PM


    TRUST ME. If a MLB GM takes the step of going public about an ongoing field conditions problem, then its pretty serious.

    Also, you either didn’t see the origination of this quote or the context in which it was delivered. Chien Ming Wang had been scheduled to pitch Monday at Potomac. And it was canceled. Then Wang was rescheduled for Wednesday. And it was postponed. And whats worse is – there was a drop of rain in the forecast. The Phitz was still unplayable from days before.

    Finally Rizzo moved Wang to Harrisburg to start last night, which he did – at the ancient City Island field – but a wonderfully maintained field it is.

    The Potomac owner has blamed the City (yet another reason to keep municipalities out of the stadium owning business) for not improving the playing surface and its drainage (apparently) as required by MiLB and the PDA (Player Development Contract).

    • amr5026 - Jul 15, 2011 at 10:30 PM

      It’s Metro Bank Park now and they sank like $20mm over the last two years on the stadium in Harrisburg.

      • bigleagues - Jul 15, 2011 at 11:54 PM

        Thanks, glad to hear they did some rehab. It’s been about 8 years since I was last there. Tremendous location for the stadium. New stands? Press box? That thing was OLD and crickety.

  4. bigleagues - Jul 15, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    I forgot to mention . . . as Brian Goessling reports the Nationals had to move several home games to Frederick, Maryland earlier this year because of the conditions.

    Bottom line: the most basic aspect of owning and operating a minor league franchise is abiding by the PDA. Potomac has the Nationals as their affiliate – to blow that geographic blessing (potentially losing the affiliation) can literally cost fans in the seats and dollars in the bank.

    Potomac’s owner and/or GM are not doing their jobs.

    Here is a couple of links that add to this story:

    • natstowngreg - Jul 15, 2011 at 5:14 PM

      Thanks for the links. I had seen the reporting of rumors, but nothing specific.

      This is fairly embarrassing for Rizzo & Co., given that they market the P-Nats to the Nats fan base (Dale City being in the southern suburbs).

      • bigleagues - Jul 15, 2011 at 6:36 PM

        No problem!

        It’s embarrassing to Rizzo and the Nationals because the average fan doesn’t understand the relationship between most minor league affiliates an the parent club. To the average fan, the Washington Nationals own the Potomac Nationals.

        But it should be most embarrassing to Woodbridge, VA.

  5. bigleagues - Jul 15, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    BTW, lost in all of this is the fact that Chien Ming Wang has a 1.00 ERA in 4 minor league starts (last 2 at AA Harisburg), including 6IP/0ER and hitting 94 on the radar last night. He’s inducing a large number of groundballs, with few K’s, but he isn’t walking anyone either. In other words, classic Wang.

    I believe the Nat’s have to call him up by August 1st or make a move. He is scheduled to make at least 1 more minor league start at AAA.

  6. kiwicricket - Jul 15, 2011 at 7:53 PM

    It’s time to put some pants on and do some yard-work Aaron

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